Friday 5

First and foremost, I really should stop calling this the "Friday 5" and instead refer to it as the "Sporadic FAQ Post that I Put Up When I Get Around To It - 5". I apologize I've not been very consistent, but on the plus side it's because I've been so busy with clients and working with such fabulous people!! Here are some of the questions I've received over the past few weeks that I've had sitting in my inbox:

1. I'd really like to break into photography, specifically family photography but nobody seems to be calling. What is the best way you garner clients?

Everyone has their own opinions, and this is simply mine - people aren't going to pay money for an outcome they can't see. Meaning, do you have any family sessions in your portfolio? Can a potential client see what they would get in return for their investment?

Okay, so now you're asking me how to add to your portfolio if nobody is calling?? To me, that's easy - "portfolio building sessions". When I first started in this business I did a lot of free sessions of friends and family, or friends or friends, to build up my portfolio and before I felt like I could work in exchange for money. Once I was comfortable, I started doing sessions in exchange for the client purchasing digital files and prints, but the session was no cost to them and they had no obligation to buy anything. How you choose to go about your portfolio building is up to you, but I think it is absolutely essential to have experience in an area of photography - newborn, family, child, wedding, etc. - before you can expect people to come knocking and wanting to pay for your services.

Lastly, sure, these sessions are time consuming for little pay, but the experience - and advertising - is priceless. Your portfolio sessions will be shared by your models, who will show them to friends, who may end up calling you. I have managed to completely build my client base on referrals/Facebook alone!

2. What do you do when a client is late? How long do you wait?

This is tough because in the DC area traffic is unpredictable. I would say 30 minutes is reasonable in the DC area, whether the client or even the photographer, myself, has hit a traffic jam. If it gets longer than 30 minutes you really could be cutting into your available light at which point it might be better for everyone to reschedule. 

3. How has changing your pricing structure impacted your business?

I am happy to report there have not been any hiccups in my bookings since reworking my portrait session fees. I know my clients struggled with understanding how my previous packages worked and what was included. Although the initial investment now seems higher, clients are no longer restrained to how many images from their session they can order and a gallery credit is included with your session, so every client walks out with at least $100 of custom goodies! 

Pricing is really tough, but I am so happy to be where I am at and to have found something that is really working for me.

4. Can you recommend a good host or gallery service?

I am currently using Zenfolio (which recently merged with my professional lab, Millers) and I have been really impressed with it. There are so many features and customizations that it can at first seem a little daunting, but now that I am figuring it out I couldn't be happier about the change!!

5. How do you feel about props in your sessions? Do you provide them or do your clients?

I love when clients bring props and ideas to their sessions - it really helps make their session their own. That said, I ask that all clients provide their own props. It's the easiest way to assure that a) the client likes props b) it's a prop they picked out and therefore their style c) you don't see the same prop ideas all over my blog. Sometimes the props work in a session and sometimes they don't, but the beauty of digital is that everything is worth a try!

Now, in regards to newborn photography, I have learned I am not a prop type of gal. I think that style of photography is beautiful and there are so many skilled photographers, but I prefer a more candid approach. Aside from a comfy bed and a beautiful blanket, I feel the baby is the only "prop" you really need. That's just my personal preference! 


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